How Did the Recent Facebook Hadith Debate Go?
By Abdur Rab and Farouk A. Peru
Novel and first of its kind, this was a debate between the Quranists and the Hadith believers (Hadithists) organized by the Facebook Liberal Muslims United (LMU) group (Fareed Firani was the Convenor) on August 8, 2015. For this the LMU group deserves our commendation. The Hadithist team was represented by Zeeshan Khan (Captain), Muhammad Zubair Khan, and Sheikh Rehan bin Umer, and the Quranist team by Jasmina Richards (Captain), Farouk A. Peru, and Abdur Rab. The moderators were Sanmuga Thavamoorthy (Chairman), Barbara Brown Knoll, Anatul Fateh, and Addie Roose. Four Hadiths were selected for the event – two chosen by each of the competing teams. The debate was scheduled to close on the same day. But it remained unfinished and extended to another day on August 15, 2015. On that day, however, without any prior notice, the Hadithists team mysteriously absconded. The Chairman and moderators of the debate declared a walkover win for the Quranists. The Chairman asked the Quranists to present their closing statement, which they did. With this, the debate came to an abrupt, unceremonious end. Interested readers may read the proceedings of the debate here. As the Quranists’ movement has been gaining ground in recent decades, the responses the Quranists offered in this debate should be of particular interest to the readers. Here we reproduce the relevant parts of the debate.
The debate got off to a poor start with some procedural matter and wrangling over the size of the opening statement that the Hadithist team could use as the selected proposing team. Though the statement was much too long compared to what is usually permitted under the Chatham House Rules being followed, Mr. Zeeshan Khan was allowed to post his at least 15-page opening statement, which he did in 15 parts (His statement can be read on the debate link as given above). Then he asked us to respond to the questions he raised in the statement. But the Chairman ruled that we were not required to respond to the opening statement according to the Chatham House Rules. His points were though touched off and responded to, in part, in our opening statement and, more fully, in our closing statement, which will be posted here at the end.
This was the opening statement, with slight editing, that was presented by our team captain Ms. Jasmina Richards, following the one by Mr. Zeeshan Khan:
“Chair, I’m probably going to be hauled over the coals as I was given an opening statement by my team, which I have chosen to dump and instead just speak straight from my heart. The heart is after all where our sincerity lies, and the subject under discussion here today, is near and dear to all of us so requires sincerity. No calculated manipulated words designed to woo the crowd but rather cold hard logical facts.
“I’m 53 years old and until 2 years ago, when I crazily decided to join the Facebook community, I hadn’t heard the word kaffir, at least not being used in the context I am today experiencing. My only exposure to this word was in apartheid South Africa, where I grew up, and heard the blacks being addressed as kaffir (pronounced kaf-fur) and my Dad cautioning me against using this word, telling me it is a derogatory term and means “non-believer” and since I didn’t have insight into the person’s heart, I have no right to call him kaffir. Now it appears everyone who doesn’t brush their teeth the way the Prophet did, or use the bathroom the way the Prophet did or heaven forbid, follow the sexual escapades the way the Prophet did, is branded a kaffir.
“While growing up, the word sunnah for me, denoted the additional prayers I could choose to make or not to make with each of my Fard prayers. Or my father showing me a miswak and explaining to me that in the time of my beloved Prophet there wasn’t toothpaste and toothbrushes so that is what the Prophet used. So any secondary sources were used to garner insight into the history behind my religion.
“It is only when I joined the Facebook community that I came to learn that I couldn’t be a good pious Muslim without knowing, accepting and following hadith, since hadith is required to understand Quran. Now I was faced with a major problem, according to these people, I had wasted 51 years of my life believing I was being a good Muslim by following Quran, now I’m being told I had it all wrong, there is another more important set of books without which I cannot follow Quran. But that’s not what Allah tells me. Allah tells me his book is complete; there is no better hadith than Quran.
“Wait, they say I cannot learn how to pray, without hadith but I’ve prayed all my life and have never opened the book on prayer written by Bukhari. Here is how I learned, as a little girl of around 3-4 year old I would kneel in front of mom while she was in Ruku and ask her if I could help find whatever she was looking for. Then when she went into Sujood I would straddle her back and she would gently lift me and put me down as she came back into Kiyaam. Finally as I grew I started to mimic her actions, till eventually she explained to me that this was her way of connecting with her creator and so it was from her I learnt to pray.
“Chair, my respected opponents will try and convince us today that the Islam I and many others like me, practice is not Islam, that myself and many like myself who follow only what Allah ordains in Quran, are kaffir, they will further argue that Allah instructs us in Quran to obey the messenger. They are quite right, here are some of the verses:
Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil): if ye do turn back, know ye that it is Our Messenger’s duty to proclaim (the Message) in the clearest manner. (5: 92).
O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most suitable for final determination (4: 59).
Say: “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger: but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance (24: 54).
And whoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger, Allâh shall admit him in the Gardens underneath which rivers flow (4:13).
And whoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger, he has won a great success (33:71).
And we sent no messenger, but that he should be obeyed by the leave of Allâh (4:64).
“Chair, note how every one of these verses first says obey Allah, then “and his messenger.” It is quite obvious that the instruction is to obey the messenger with regards to the message he brings which ultimately is the Quran. This intention of the instruction to obey the messenger is made even more glaringly obvious when Allah says, “And we sent no messenger, but that he should be obeyed by the leave of Allah.” It would be a major catastrophic fruit salad if we tried to obey ALL the messengers by following their dress code, bathroom habits, hygiene habits and sexual habits.
“It is my contention that our beloved Prophet was sent to a 7th century group of people, who had very specific needs relevant to their times. Our Prophet took the guidance given to him via Quran and practically implemented practices to accommodate those needs. To try and fit those practices into a 21st century is ludicrous, to say the least.
“Instead what we should be doing is trying to understand how the guidance of the Quran can be implemented in today’s society.
“I am Muslim and I follow the Quran.
At this point, the Chairman asked Mr. Zeeshan Khan to move his motion. Instead, ignoring the Chairman’s ruling on opening statements, he questioned our opening statement and asked, “How can one perform Salat, Fast, Hajj from Quran only?” One of us, Farouk A. Peru, pointed out to the Chairman that Mr. Zeeshan Khan was unnecessarily wasting time, questing our opening statement. Abdur Rab pointed out that he should move his motion only with one of their chosen Hadiths. After insisting on his question for some more time, Mr. Zeeshan Khan then moved his first Hadith motion as follows:
“The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said, “Cleanliness is half of faith and Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fills the scale, and Subhan Allah [Glory be to Allah] and Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fill up what is between the heavens and the earth, and prayer is a light, and charity is proof [of one’s faith] and patience is a brightness and the Qur’an is a proof on your behalf or against you.”
Source: Muslim no. 223 – [Sahih]
“Mr. Chairman, As our friends, the Hadith rejecters, will always propagate a notion that Hadith contradicts Quran’s clear teaching, therefore [it] must be banned, so, I would dare to ask my opponents to show us a verse of Quran to which above Hadith contradicts. Thanks.”
With the Chairman’s permission, Abdur Rab then provided the substantive refutation of this Hadith thus:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The following is my response to this hadith in the light of the Quran.
“First and foremost, a hadith need not directly contradict the Quran in order for it to be false. It can be a non sequitur.
“This hadith is a typical hodgepodge of fragmentary pieces of advice found in the hadith literature as a whole. But this sort of advice often misses the wholesome advice of the Quran. Some specific points are noted as follows.
- It speaks of cleanliness as one half of faith itself as if the other half is faith in God and all the things the Quran talks about. But this is an absurd assertion.
- It says God’s praise and glorification fill up what is between the heavens and the earth. But it fails to note that all living beings, including birds, praise and glorify God and all knows its salat (24:41).
- Salat is translated as prayer and shown as a light or nur. But the Quran uses the term “nur” for God Himself and for the Quran itself. By emphasizing salat as a nur, the hadith diverts Muslims’ attention to a ritual as the only virtuous thing for Muslims to perform. But salat is not explained. The Quran says all living beings know and perform salat (24:41). God says all living beings prostrate before God (13:15). Do we then know how all living beings perform salat and prostrate before God? The conventional salat traditional Muslims understand and perform has some inherent problems: such as recitation per se, utterances that are inconsistent with the very spirit of prayer, and it’s delinking from human behavior and actions.
- Again to say that charity is proof of one’s faith is to overemphasize its importance. We know that faith consists in belief in God and all things God talks about. Why just restrict it to charity? The conventional understanding in Hadith-based traditional Islam is that zakat is 2.5% of one’s assets or income. However, the Quran has a broader meaning of zakat and sadaqa.
- What does the hadith mean by saying patience is a brightness? The Quran asks believers to seek help through patience and salat: “O ye who believe! Seek help through perseverance and prayer (salat). Verily God is with the perseverant. (2:153, see also 2:45-46 and 3:26). So the Quran’s message on this is clear and wholesome. The hadith adds no meaningful message.
- And again saying that the Quran is a proof for or against you is practically saying nothing. What does this really mean? Proof of what? Is the Quran going to testify in favor of us or against us? Isn’t it a bizarre claim?
With the Chair’s permission, Mr. Zeeshan Khan then presented his response thus:
“I found it very interesting to know of a Hadith rejecter that Hadith does not have to clearly contradict Quran. This issue is, we have a disagreement over an important issue which involves religion. The only way to reach a conclusion is ask the book of Allah and if our opponents believe that it (Hadith) does not have to contradict Quran then question arises, why one would reject Hadith?
“Respected brother also leveled allegations of hadith being fake and irrelevant and in his own words, “typical hodgepodge of fragmentary pieces of advice” needs more discussion, which involve if hadith/sunna is an authority which was somehow ignored. Respondent is clearly playing with words and trying to give them meaning which suits his opinion.
“By no means this Hadith contradicts Quran, in fact it further explains the importance of cleanliness and other rituals which were repeatedly discussed in Quran. Here r few of verses which encourage same idea as being propagated in hadith.
“Truly, Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” (Al Baqarah 2:222)
“Do not stand [for prayer] within it – ever. A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in. Within it are men who love to purify themselves; and Allaah loves those who purify themselves.” [Quran 9: 108]
“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of Janaabah (major impurity), then purify yourselves.” [Quran 5: 6]
“And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allaah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.”” [Quran 2: 222]
“None touch it except the purified.” [Quran 79: 56]
“So remember Me; I will remember you.” [Quran 2:152]
“Whoever fears Allah, Allaah will find a way out for him (from every difficulty) and He will provide for him from sources that he could never have imagined.” [Quran 65:2]
“For Muslim men and Muslim women, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and patient men and patient women, and men with humility and women with humility, and for men who give charity and women who give charity, and men who fast and women who fast, and chaste men and chaste women, and for men who remember God much and women who remember God much,- for them, God has prepared forgiveness and great reward.” [Quran 33:35]
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find reassurance in the remembrance of God, will undoubtedly have their hearts assured by the remembrance of God.” [Al-Ra’d 28]
“This is the Book in which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who have Taqwa; who believe in the unseen, and who establish Salah, and spend out of what we have provided for them.” (Surah Baqarah 2: 2-3)
“The believers, men and women, are protecting friends of one another; they enjoin good and forbid evil, and they establish Salah, and give Zakah, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them, and surely, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Surah Tawba 9: 71)
“Truly, those who believe and do righteous deeds, and perform Salah, and give Zakah, they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Surah Baqarah 2:277)
“I would again request to show us A verse which nullifies this hadith.
“Brother also spoke about NUR and criticized this word to be taken for Salat. I ask my brother, doesn’t prayer show us a way? Way to Allah? Way can only be clear when there is enough LIGHT to recognize truth from falsehood and Salat is that light which helps one to differentiate good from bad.”
The Chair then asked us to respond with our supplementary response. Farouk A. Peru then came with his response as follows:
“With respect to Mr. Zeeshan Khan’s point “If the Hadith does not have to contradict Quran then question arises, why one would reject Hadith?”, my response is: “Unfortunately my esteemed colleague fails to understand the ‘burden of proof’ is on HIS PARTY, the Sunnis. It is they who need to show that the Prophet actually uttered through words. Mere not contradicting the spirit of the Quran does not validate a hadith.
“Zeeshan Khan said, “Brother also spoke about NUR and criticized this word to be taken for Salat. I ask my brother, doesn’t prayers show u a way? way to Allah? Way can only be clear when there is enough LIGHT to recognize truth from falsehood and Salat is that light which helps one to differentiate good from bad.” My response to this point is: “Again, this is not the point. The point is that the precise language of the Quran, spoken by a divine author does not need a human to supplement its concepts. It calls Allah himself as noor (24/35) thus outlaying its metaphysics. Calling ‘salat’ as noor simply skews that perfect metaphysics. This Hadith is suitable as hyperbole for folkloric Islam. It cannot be used to explain the Quran.”
The Chair then asked Mr. Zeeshan Khan to respond to our supplementary response. He then gave the following response:
With respect to our first point, my response is: “Our opponents are forgetting a fact that its Hadith rejecters who have challenged the authority which is unanimously accepted by ummah and that too for more than 1400 years. Therefore onus is on them to bring forth the evidence from Quran to discredit Hadith/Sunna.
“With respect to our second point, my response is: Indeed Quran speaks about Allah being NUR but my friend has not understood the verse properly. Namaz or Salat is from Allah and for Allah.”
With this, the debate was adjourned until London time 4 pm, August 15, 2015. When the debate resumed on the second day, our team was present, and we (represented by Jasmina Richards) moved our motion on our first chosen Hadith thus:
“It is the contention of this house, that Sahih Muslim hadith 21a contradicts Quran 2:256, 10:99; 50:45; 88:21-22, wherein Allah instructs no force is warranted in matters of faith, and that each individual apply choice to join or not to join any faith.”
“SAHIH MUSLIM 21a – It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah said: “I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah.”
The Chair, however, decided in collaboration with all the moderators, that in the absence of the Hadithist team, the debate could not be continued. As noted at the beginning, the Chair then declared that we won the debate by a walkover and asked us to present our closing statement. Abdur Rab then submitted the closing statement as follows:
“Mr. Sanmuga Thavamoorthy. My submission is in two parts as follows.
“Part !: Mr. Chairman, Thank you. Thank you for having conducted this debate with efficiency and sagacity.
“I’m honored and privileged to submit this closing statement. Through this closing statement, I also wish to thank our respected friend Zeeshan Khan and his colleagues for having participated in this peaceful debate or dialogue, which, I think is a great step forward for Muslims in their search for a common ground, and which is always preferable to militant confrontation. I thank them for not declaring us heretics (apostates or murtads), worthy of killing.
“Mr. Chairman, I begin by briefly touching on Mr. Zeeshan Khan’s opening statement, even though we do not need to respond to it. We do think though – and our sympathizers also expect – that his main points or assertions should not go unaddressed and unchallenged.
“He has made the point that Muslims have accepted the authority of the Hadith as part of their guidance for more than 1400 years. He has not acknowledged the fact there has been strong and widespread opposition to the Hadith right from the early days of Islam, and even since the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself. The Quran itself refers to people who used to distort the words of God and claim that those were God’s revelation (2:78-79, 3:78). So it is not surprising, therefore, that there would be people coming later who would bring fabricated, spurious teachings and attribute them to our dear Prophet.
“I am grateful to Professor Aisha Musa for personally helping me prepare this statement. Her landmark work “Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam,” Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, explores the earliest extant discussions on the authority of the Hadith in Islam and compares them with contemporary debates. She vividly shows that Muslim scholar al-Shafii (d. 204 AH/820 CE) himself noted and acknowledged in his “Kitab Jima al-Ilm” and “Risala” that there was much opposition to the Hadith during his time, which he struggled to deal with. Even predating al-Shafii, such opposition is found in a text that Muslim tradition holds to be a letter from the Kharijite Abd Allah Ibn Ibad to the Caliph Abd al-Malik in 76 AH/695 CE. Its importance as a challenge to the authority of the Hadith remains undented. A key passage of this letter criticizes the Kufans for taking “Hadiths” for their religion abandoning the Quran. “They believed in a book which was not from God, written by the hands of men; they then attributed it to the Messenger of God.” (Cf., Musa, p. 38.)
“Both al-Shafii and Ibn Qutayba (d. 276 AH) refer to the opponents of the Hadith as Ahl al-Kalam and indicate that the objection to Prophetic reports was widespread. Al-Shafi’i states that so many people presented so many arguments to him that he could not exactly remember who said what. Ibn Qutayba makes it clear in his introduction that the opponents of the Hadith had written books containing scathing criticisms of the proponents of the Hadith. Unfortunately, these books have been lost to humanity. (Cf., Musa, p. 21)
“Professor Musa also mentions another important work dealing with Hadith controversies in early Islam: “Taqyid al-Ilm” by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463 AH/1071 CE). This work importantly shows that the Prophet both disapproved Hadith writing and approved Hadith writing, but subject to the important proviso that it agreed with the Quran. It also mentions Caliph Umar as a central figure who opposed the use of the Hadith as a competing source of religious guidance and refers to him as saying that following more than one source of religious guidance is what brought the people who received previous scriptures to ruin (Cf., Musa, p. 74). Al-Baghdadi’s book also contains reports of other prominent companions that show the same concern. Ibn Masud in particular chastises a man who brought him a Hadith book, citing the opening verses of Surah Yusuf, 12:1-3, where the Quran is referred to as the book from where one learns wisdom. (Ibid, p. 74). Other sources such as “al-Tabaqat al-Kubra” of Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Sa’d (d. 230 AH/845 CE) and “Musannaf” of ‘Abd al-Razzak al-Sanani (d. 211 AH/827 CE) also report Umar’s opposition to the use of Hadith and his destruction of collections of them (Musa, pp. 21-28).
“Mr. Chairman, I recount these early accounts to demonstrate that the challenge to the acceptance of the Hadith as a parallel source of Islam was much more pronounced in early Islam than ever thought. This challenge has continued throughout history. Mutazilites, who represented one of the earliest rationalist Muslim theological schools, and are the later Ahl al-Kalam, also viewed the transmission of the Prophetic sunnah as not sufficiently reliable. The Hadith, according to them, was mere “guesswork and conjecture [… and] the Quran was complete and perfect, and did not require the Hadith or any other book to supplement or complement it.” At one time in history, the Mutazilites were a dominant group. The trend of opposition to the Hadith reemerged in the late nineteenth century in the Indian sub-continent as part of a reformist program in Islam. In Egypt also, the anti-Hadith movement was touched off by the turn of the twentieth century by an article by Muhammad Taufiq Sidqi titled ‘al-Islam huwa ul-Qur’an Wahdahu’ (‘Islam is the Qur’an Alone’ that appeared in the Egyptian journal al-Manar.” Then in the Indo-Pak sub-continent a number of prominent Muslim scholars emerged in the twentieth century to lead a vigorous anti-Hadith movement, which spread worldwide and is continuing in a more vocal way today. This demonstrates the significance of the contemporary Quran-Only movement as a real and growing force in Islam.
“Musa’s research also demonstrates that opposition to the Hadith as an authoritative scriptural source of law and guidance has not been influenced by Western, orientalist ideas about Islam, but is very much an Islamic development from within – “an inherently Muslim response to inherently Muslim concerns” (Musa, pp. 1, 3). This fact also refutes Mr. Zeeshan Khan’s allegation that modern Hadith criticism is an outgrowth of Orientalists’ writings. Modern Hadith criticism and rejection essentially reflects the same concerns of the Hadith critics of early Islam.
“Mr. Chairman, Sanmuga Thavamoorthy. Here is the second part. A second major observation of Zeeshan Khan is that the Hadith is a second kind of Divine revelation. But this is not a new observation. It is al-Shafii who first elevated the status of Hadith to the status of Divine revelation. Our respected friend takes great pains to prove with the Quran that the Hadith is a kind of wahy ghayr matlu (unrecited revelation), while the Quran is wahy matlu (recited revelation). However, this claim must be unfounded, since it raises the very pertinent question that if this second kind were Divine revelation then why the Prophet himself or his close companions did not take any measures to record and preserve this second kind or the Hadith, as he did in the case of the Quran. Why the compilations of Bukhari and his ilk came more than two centuries after the Prophet’s death and why the Sunnis have collections different from the Shias?
“In fact the Quran itself uses the term “Hadith” in a number of places and warns believers not to believe in any Hadith other than the Quran (45:6, 31:6, 39:23, 6:114). The Quran declares, “Such are the revelations (ayats) of Allah, which We recount to you in truth, then in what Hadith will they believe after Allah and His revelations (45:6, see also 7:185 and 77:50)? We can see the import of this message also in another verse: “Shall I seek other than God as a source of law and judgment when He is the One who has sent down the Book to you in detail?” (6:114).
“Also, “What is wrong with you? How do you judge? Do you have another book which you study?” (68:35-36). The verse 39:23 refers to the Quran itself as Ahsanul Hadith (the best Hadith). These verses decisively rule out the need for another book, the Hadith.
“Our respected friend also uses the much cited Quranic verse “Obey Allah, obey the Messenger” to argue his defense of the Hadith. He also throws a challenge to us if we can show whether the Quran tells us to follow the Quran alone. However, modern Hadith rejecters like us, like our predecessors, have effectively demonstrated that the key requirement for following the Messenger is to follow the very message he has brought and delivered to us, i.e., the Quran, which characterizes itself as an explanation of everything (16:89), easy, straightforward (44:58, 54:17, 22, 32, 40, 39:28), and detailed, self-explained (39:27, 12:111, 6:114). In fact, the Quran refers to the Sayings of the Messenger as the revelation (69:40-43).
“The Prophet himself emphasized, “I follow naught except what is revealed to me” (6:50; 46:9) and God advised him and us to do the same (6:155; 45:6; see also 7:3). Also, he was asked to admonish his people only with the Quran (50:45). [Also, as we have noted above, other verses caution us against believing in anything other than God’s revelation (7:185, 45:6, 6:114, 68:35-36).] So if we just follow the Quran, we really follow him as well. And it is also noteworthy that the Prophet used to recite the Quran to people around him (62:2; 75:16-19). He did not need to explain it to them, as he was barred from doing that; the burden of explanation was on God Himself (75:18-19). […] Note also that the Prophet was specifically urged by God to judge only by the Quran, and not follow any personal desires (6:114; 4:105; 5:48-49). And the Quran also unequivocally proclaims that those who do not judge by what has been revealed from God are disbelievers (kafirs) (5:44), wrongdoers (jalims) (5:45), or rebellious (fasiqs) (5:49). This clearly means that the Quran alone should be used as the basis of religious law in Islam.” (Excerpted from my book “Rediscovering Genuine Islam: The Case for a Quran-Only Undestanding,” pp. 211-212.)
“The case for following our Prophet as an example should be like following all prophets as examples. The Quran specifically refers to Abraham as an example to follow (60:4-6), a model (16:120) and one whose millat (ways) God asked Muhammad (and indirectly us) to follow (16:123). So, please tell us how should we follow Abraham? Following his Hadith?
“Two key arguments of the early Hadith rejecters are that (1) the Quran itself is an explanation of everything (16:89) and that (2) wisdom mentioned along with the Quran is found in the Quran itself – in its rulings. We find echoes of such arguments in also contemporary discussions of the opponents of the Hadith.
“Finally, we need to say something about the contradictory, blasphemous, and absurd reports falsely attributed to our Prophet. We may ask our respected friend whether he would like to share and like his wife to share their private life with us. We shudder to think how Muslims believe that the Prophet’s illustrious wives, whom the Quran itself describes as mothers to believers, narrated the outrageous accounts of their private lives with the Prophet. And how does the Hadith portray the Prophet as a sex maniac going to all his nine wives at the same night and that he possessed the power of 30 men? The Hadith not only insults our Prophet and his wives, but also goes to the other extreme by declaring him as a Semi-God, without whom this universe would not have come into existence, and who is the only prophet who will intercede on behalf of the believers, even though the Quran declares him as a man like us and urges us not to differentiate between the prophets.
“Mr. Chairman, the Hadith also corrupts our deen in numerous other ways. The four Hadiths we have discussed last Saturday and today are just a miniscule sample of reports that distort the message contained in the Quran. It’s not possible here to recount all the problems with the Hadith. So-called science and methodology of the Hadith our friend has referred to is just a big joke. My book shows a long list of areas where the Hadith corrupts our deen. It has helped Muslims divide into sects and madhhabs, despite God’s clear directive against it (3:103, 105). It provides misguidance in religious practices such as salat, fasting, and hajj; demonizes women; encourages intolerance, violence and terror; perpetuates archaic, cruel punishments (punishments such as stoning the adulterer and the adulteress to death and harsh punishments up to death for blasphemy and apostasy); justifies slavery and slavery-like practices; justifies sex with war captives without marriage; justifies child marriage and perpetuates other unfair family laws, including barring the divorced wife to remarry her husband unless and until she marries another person and that person divorces her; throttles freedom of religion and speech; and discourages independent, rational thinking, scientific inquiry, and modernity. It’s the Hadith that has held us back over 1400 years. Isn’t it a prophecy of our Prophet come true that our ummah has forsaken the Quran (25:30)? Isn’t now the time to reject the Hadith and return to and rally around the Quran alone?
“Born and raised as an orthodox Sunni Muslim, I’ve changed and become a Quranist, not due to any influence from the Orientalists. Why can’t you, my friend?
“I will end here, Mr. Chairman, without boring our readers further. Thank you, thank my colleagues Jasmina Richards and Farouk A. Peru, thank the moderators and organizers of this debate, especially Fareed Firani, and thank all readers. May Allah bless us and guide us all!”
After this Chairman, Mr. Sanmuga Thavamoorthy, thanked Abdur Rab for “an eloquent closing statement indeed.” Moderator Ms. Addie Roose remarked, “The professionalism displayed is remarkable. It does show that Muslims can discuss without animosity, rancor and ill feelings.” Moderator Ms. Barbara Brown Knoll said, “Sorry to those waiting for some interesting debate today.” Moderator Mr. Anatul Fateh commented, “The comments so far posted were thought-provoking. I am sorry only that the debate now closes without more of the same.” At this point, the Chairman thanked all concerned and declared the debate closed.
We, the Quranists, welcomed this wonderful opportunity to confront our Hadith-following friends in a friendly encounter – more so because this is precisely the way Muslims should go to settle their in-house differences, not by resorting to any violent methods. The debate, we believe, went fairly well on the first day. However, we were terribly disappointed when our opponents chose not to turn up on the second day without any prior notice. Courtesy demanded an apology from them for not turning up. But why should they care? Do we really qualify as Muslims to be treated well by them? What a pity!
Abdur Rab, Ph.D. (Harvard), is a retired public policy analyst and author, Rediscovering Genuine Islam: The Case for a Quran-Only Understanding, the third succeeding two earlier editions.
|Farouk A. Peru is a Ph.D. Candidate in theology and religion (King’s College, London). A Quranist Muslim who sees hadiths as a reflection of Arab culture of the time.|